Unilever Nigeria Plc has re-launched its health soap brand, Lifebuoy, and also unveiled renowned Afro-pop singer-songwriter, Omawumi Megbele, as its new ambassador during an event held in Lagos.

The company hinted that the health soap brand will partner with Wellbeing Foundation Africa and Sightsavers to improve maternal and child health in the country.

According to the company, in partnership with NGOs, Lifebuoy’s ‘Help a Child Reach 5’ global campaign will also advance critical hygiene interventions such as hand-washing with soap to address child mortality due to preventable diseases in Nigeria.

Speaking at the launch event, Osato Evbuomwan, Category Manager, Skin Cleansing, Unilever Nigeria Plc, said: “Private corporations can play important roles in impacting the survival of the society, and through the Lifebuoy brand, Unilever is absolutely committed to changing the hygiene behaviour of a billion people worldwide by 2020.

“With strategic partnerships, we can expand programs to drive lasting and impactful change within Nigerian communities”, Evbuomwan added.

In his keynote speech, Deputy Director, Co-curricular Department, Lagos State Ministry of Education, Ogunlamoye Ayodeji, said that “as a nation, our growth depends solely on the education of the majority of our people, but not many are willing to apply their knowledge for the benefit of the nation.

“Since we recognise this challenge, the state government is working in line with Lifebuoy’s ‘Help a Child Reach 5’ initiative – an endeavour which addresses the mortality rate of children under 5”, he added.

The director also commended Unilever and Lifebuoy for the initiative and pledged the government’s support and commitment in line with the state’s policy on public/private participation.

Nigerian singer and Lifebuoy’s newest brand ambassador, Omawumi expressed her support saying, that “as a mother of two young children, I simply cannot imagine losing them to preventable infections.

“It is a shame that hundreds of thousands of Nigerian children die before their fifth birthday every year, so we have to take further steps to address this issue.

“I’m thrilled to partner with Lifebuoy to empower parents with the lifesaving message of handwashing with soap. I look forward to lending my voice and influence to advance this wonderful effort”, she added.

The Country Director, Sightsavers, Dr Sunday Isiyaku, explained that classrooms were important touch points to empower Nigerian youth, especially as a wide-reaching platform to bring hygiene practices acquired in school back to their communities – a critical step to ending the spread of neglected tropical diseases like blindness-causing trachoma.

Commenting during the launch, the Chief Executive Officer of Wellbeing Foundation Africa, Mrs Amy Oyekunle, noted that “newborn babies are vulnerable to infections, which is why ensuring access and availability to skilled care under hygienic conditions is imperative.

“Along with Lifebuoy, we seek to empower mothers in Nigeria through our MamaCare classes led by qualified midwives to help make hand-washing with soap an everyday habit early on.

“This partnership supports our global campaign, led by our Founder-President, Her Excellency, Mrs Toyin Ojora Saraki, to ensure mothers and their babies survive and thrive”, Oyekunle added.

More than 215,000 children under the age of five in Nigeria die due to preventable infections like diarrhoea and pneumonia each year – the highest across Africa.

The simple act of hand-washing with soap is one of the most cost-effective, yet often overlooked ways that could have prevented many of these deaths.

Cross section of guests at the Lifebuoy relaunch event in Lagos
Cross section of guests at the Lifebuoy relaunch event in Lagos

Lanre Odupe, Brand Manager, Lifebuoy, Unilever PLC,Osato Evbuomwan, Category Manager Skin Cleansing, Unilever PLC, Omawumi Megbele, Bra